WASHINGTON — Today, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Adam Smith (D-WA) reintroduced the “No First Use Act,” which, if it becomes law, would reduce the risk of nuclear conflict by legally obligating the United States to never use nuclear weapons first in a crisis or conflict.
In reaction to the announcement, Derek Johnson, chief executive officer of Global Zero, the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:
“Today’s re-introduction of the No First Use Act is an important step to enhance American and global security by helping ensure nuclear weapons are never used again. This is common-sense legislation that makes Americans, and the world, safer and more secure. It is long past time for the United States to adopt a realistic policy that forgoes the possible first use of nuclear weapons.
“The risks that nuclear weapons will be used are unacceptably and unnecessarily high. The major risk of nuclear use today comes from the danger that a small or accidental clash or conflict will escalate quickly through confusion or fear and cross the nuclear threshold. America’s decades-long policy of threatening its own possible first use of nuclear weapons only adds to this danger. Codifying No First Use into law is the most important and immediate step the U.S. can take to lower the risk of nuclear conflict, strengthen global stability, and create new opportunities to pursue reductions in these dangerous and expensive arsenals.
“There is no plausible scenario in which the first use of nuclear weapons by the United States makes sense. Threatening to do so only makes it easier for others to do the same, adding to the pressure on all to escalate quickly. Any use of nuclear weapons would be horrific and catastrophic, and we must take decisive action to make this scenario less likely in parallel with our long-term efforts to eradicate them.
“In 2017, then-Vice President Joe Biden said he was confident the U.S. can ‘deter and defend ourselves and our allies against non-nuclear threats through other means.’ It is high time to act on that confidence, and for leaders in the U.S. and all nuclear-armed states to accept that true security cannot be built on threats of mass destruction.
“The Global Zero movement applauds Senator Warren and Chairman Smith for their continued leadership, and endorses the No First Use Act in the strongest possible terms.”